Over the course of 30 years, William E. Jones has produced a genre-defying body of work that includes films, videos, photographs, and texts. He alternately employs research, critique, autobiography, fiction, and appropriation to offer bracing-and often controversial-reassessments of the historical record. (1998) is an important video from a moment in Joness career when he was beginning to leave behind the world of independent documentary cinema for a more free-wheeling practice that existed-and continues to exist-at the margins between several disciplines. It is comprised entirely of footage from gay adult videos made in Eastern Europe in the first years after the arrival of capitalism. In this interview with Stuart Krimko, the gallerys Research and Editorial Director, Jones discusses the videos genesis, historical background, and continued relevance.
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch sexualized scenes of domination and submission in his novel
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Lets start with the basics. Where did the material that makes up The Fall of Communism... originate, and how did it fall into your hands?
In the mid-1990s, I worked in a video store and saw the release of a wave of gay adult videos shot in Eastern Europe. They were products of a crude imperialist enterprise: cheap and nasty looking, with an atmosphere of coercion and cultural misunderstanding pervading them. Customers adored these videos, and expressed their breathless admiration whenever given the chance. The moment I saw the cover of Men of the Balkans, the first gay porn film shot in Bulgaria, I knew I had found a subject for a video. With little money or leisure time, I couldnt travel to Eastern Europe to make a documentary; instead, I examined the internal evidence of the videos themselves.